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Woodbury Student Jumps at Chance for Olympic Dream

Brian Wallace, 17, a member of USA Ski Jumping, travels the world as he hones his talent for a run at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

“I always looked at it like: 2014, 2014, 2014—that’s the year I want to go to the Olympics.”

Those are the words of student Brian Wallace, 17, a member of USA Ski Jumping who has become one of the sport’s top athletes.

Wallace—who previously attended and —started ski jumping in second grade with his friend Matt Hamilton.

“I stuck with it and haven’t stopped jumping since,” he said.

Wallace travels all over the county and to Europe for competitions. Across the pond, ski jumping is a major sport, he said.

“In Europe, it’s just like football or basketball here. You get crowds of hundreds of thousands of people,” Wallace said. “If you’re a young German, Austrian or Norwegian kid, you look up to ski jumpers—like if you grew up in Brazil you’d look up to soccer players.”

At the top of the ramp, there are some jitters to overcome at first, said Wallace, who qualified for the Junior Olympics at age 12 and currently competes with the St. Paul Ski Club.

“You may be a little scared or timid,” he said. “But you take a feeler run and after that, if you’re scared, you shouldn’t be jumping—you’re holding yourself back.”

What about crashing?

“I’ve been in a couple pretty big spills; they call them ‘tip-ins,’” Wallace said. “The only thing I’ve ever done is dislocate some fingers, but you just pop those back in.”

For Wallace, ski jumping is a year-round activity. Even in summer he jumps at a location in Minneapolis where skiers land on plastic that’s sprayed with water.

Being away from Woodbury so often means he has to keep up a dialogue with his teachers to ensure he's on top of his school work. It also means less time with his buddies.

“You really don’t get much time for friends,” he said. “But they understand what you’re doing.”

During the summer months Wallace said he enjoys golf and water skiing at the family’s cabin. While he’s ultra competitive on the ski jump, he takes it easy when he participates in other sports, like traditional downhill skiing: “I like to screw around more than anything else."

But his main focus now is the 2014 Olympics in Russia.

“The Olympics have always been my dream, my goal, the only thing that I wanted to do,” he said.

And that takes hard work and dedication. Even after a competition, Wallace said he often heads back up to the ramp for more jumps “with my ribbon hanging from the back of my helmet.”

He recalled one top ski jumper who was a relative unknown and in one year became the top U.S. athlete.

“So this is a real possibility, to go to the Olympics,” Wallace said.

Lila A Malvik-Shower February 26, 2011 at 03:04 PM
thanks for a great article about ski jumping. My nephews are competing at the Junior Olympics in Salisbury Conneticut as well. Trygve is 14 and Finn is 11 and they ski for Blackhawk Ski Club in Madison Wisc. Their Grampa, Sig Malvik skied for St. Paul Ski club many years ago and won the National Championships (now known as the Junior Olympics) in Salsbury CT in 1952. As Brian stated, in Europe ski jumping is really popular, my dad was born and raised in Norway, came to st. Paul when he was 16, finished high school at Central High and then ski jumped until he was 67. There is not much publicity for the sport to I really appreciate your article and i hope you follow Brain's career, he could very well make it to the 2014 Olympics. Respectfully, Lila A Malvik-Shower
Kris Janisch February 26, 2011 at 03:11 PM
So cool Lila, we'll be following Brian. I still can't believe Brian said most people think it's easy. I downhill ski and it seems incredibly hard! Side note: I went to Central and my mom is mostly Norwegian!
Ann Hagstrom March 24, 2011 at 01:03 AM
So proud of you Brian.....can't wait to watch you on TV in 2014!

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